Personality Characteristics and Pro-Environmental Behavior:
Understanding Farmers in Order to Improve Surface Water Quality in Tuttle Creek Lake, KS
COURTNEY QUINN and MARK BURBACH
University of Nebraska- Lincoln, School of Natural Resources
Introduction Model of Hypotheses Conclusions
The findings of the study indicate a significant negative causal relationship between an externally based self-
Farmers choose to adopt conservation practices for varying reasons. There are many models of
concept and Pro-Environmental Behaviors. This finding lends support to the notion that farmers concerned
pro-environmental behaviors that include personal, physical, economic, and institutional factors.
about what their neighbors and peers think may not believe their conservation practices that benefit surface water
Models of farmer behavior that include personal factors often only examine farmers’ education
will be adequately recognized. A significant negative causal relationship was found between Anthropocentric
level and years farming.
reasoning and Pro-Environmental Behaviors. This finding indicates that farmers who value nature because of
Testing additional factors would greatly improve our understanding of the relationship between material or physical benefits it can provide for humans are less likely to use conservation practices.
farmers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities and pro-environmental behaviors. This study examines
Additionally, there were significant positive correlations between farmers’ Pro-Environmental Behaviors and
three personal variables in relation to farmers’ conservation practices that benefit surface water
education level, farm sales, and percentage of income from farming. Farmers who have obtained higher education
quality; environmental attitude, work motivation, and moral reasoning about the environment.
degrees are learning either a concern for the environment or the ability to apply newer conservation technologies.
Purpose: To understand antecedents to the use of pro-environmental behaviors by conventional Farmers with higher sales also use more conservation practices. This suggests that their income allows them to
farmers that benefit surface water quality. implement practices that may have high initial start-up costs. Farmers who earn a high percentage of their family
income from farming also use more conservation practices. A heavy dependence on the success of the farm may
Objectives: To discover if a farmers’ environmental attitudes, work motivation, and moral
cause farmers to have a long-term outlook and see the benefits of using conservation.
reasoning about the environment are causally related pro-environmental behaviors that benefit
surface water quality. The ultimate goal is to provide a greater understanding of why farmers There were significant negative correlations between Pro-Environmental Behaviors and age, and years farming.
choose to engage in practices that benefit the environment to aid researchers and policy makers in Results Younger farmers, and those who have been farming for fewer years, are more interested and willing to use
conservation management decisions. Pro-Environmental Behavior on Estimates S.E. Est./S.E.
conservation practices. This may be because younger farmers have grown up during a time of concern for the
natural environment. Younger farmers may also be less set in their ways and therefore willing to try new practices.
Intrinsic Process Motivation -0.019 0.071 -0.264
Description of Study Area & Problem Implications for Research: Other personal characteristics should be studied. For example, researchers should
Instrumental Motivation 0.142 0.078 1.817
Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas is a 14,000-acre impoundment located in northeast Kansas at the lower investigate whether farmers experience empathy with downstream residents and the distance of concern farmers
end of the Big Blue River. Tuttle Creek Lake is a major source of water for the Kansas River, Self-concept External Motivation -0.153 0.056 -2.722* consider when making decisions. Farmers’ need for control, and their perceived ability to create desired change
which supplies public drinking water for the cities of Kansas City, Topeka, and Lawrence, KS. Self-concept Internal Motivation -0.048 0.099 -0.485 should be researched to discover if causations exist with likelihood to use Pro-Environmental Behaviors.
Land use within the Tuttle Creek Lake Watershed is primarily agriculture, with approximately 72% Goal Internal Motivation 0.192 0.099 1.932
Barbuto, J.E., & Scholl, R.W. (1998). Motivation Sources Inventory: Development and validation of new scales to measure an integrative taxonomy of
in corn, soybean, grain sorghum, or other crops, 10% in pastureland, and 10% in woodland. Pro-Environmental Attitudes (NEP) -0.010 0.005 -1.825 motivation. Psych. Rep., 82, 1011-1022.
Corral-Verdugo, V. (2002). Structural Equation Modeling. In: Handbook of Environmental Psychology, (eds.) R. Bechtel and A. Churchman.
Herbicides are used extensively to control agricultural weeds. Soil infiltration rates in the project Dunlap, R.E., Van Liere, K.D., Mertig, A., & Jones, R.E. (2000). Measuring endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A revised NEP scale. J. Soc.
Ecocentric Moral Reasoning 0.045 0.076 0.595
area range from moderate to very slow. The topography of the area is highly differentiated with Issues, 56(3), 425-442.
slopes ranging from 1% to greater than 10%. As a consequence, the area has a moderate to very Anthropocentric Moral Reasoning -0.141 0.067 -2.102* Fazio, R.J., & Zanna, M. (1978). Attitudinal qualities relating to the strength of the attitude-behavior relationship. J. Exp. Soc. Psych., 14, 398-408.
Sample, N., & Frese, M. (1973). Attitude and prediction of behaviors. Social Forces, 51, 292-303.
high potential of transporting contaminants to surface waters. Thompson, S.G. & Barton, M.A. (1994). Ecocentric and anthropocentric attitudes towards the environment. J. Env. Psych., 14, 149-157.
Tuttle Creek Lake is listed on the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) list as impaired for siltation,
eutrophication, atrazine, and alachlor. Extremely high suspended solids and nutrient loads enter
the reservoir during storm events and excessive siltation has occurred in the upper third of the Work Motivation
Environmental Attitude 1) Intrinsic Process: the activity itself
original conservation pool reducing its volume by approximately 30%.
An individual’s attitude towards is the reward.
These elevated herbicide concentrations pose a risk to potable water supply downstream of the the environment, considering how
lake in the Kansas River. Atrazine concentrations in the impoundment during the period of record environmentalism challenges society’s current 2) Goal Internalization: the behavior is congruent
show many periods when the public drinking water criterion of 3 μg/L has been exceeded. views about nature and the relationship between with the individual’s value system.
humans and nature (Dunlap and Van Liere 1978).
Nebraska Little Blue 3) Instrumental Reward: characterized by a concern
Big Blue Attitudes held with high confidence are for tangible incentives.
River Gage better predictors of behavior than are attitudes
Jefferson held with low confidence 4) Self-Concept External: relies on their social identity
Tuttle Creek (Sample and Warland 1973; and others to define them.
Fazio and Zanna 1978).
5) Self-Concept Internal: a person’s sense
Kansas of self is primarily inner directed.
Methods Moral Reasoning
• In November 2007, 4,191 mail surveys were delivered to farmers in Gage and Jefferson counties Pro-Environmental Behaviors
The essential dilemma for all
in southeast Nebraska, and Washington and Marshall counties in northeast Kansas. Data of
environmental ethics concerns is the 1) Tillage practices
farmers’ conservation practices and the personality variables, hypothesized to be antecedents to
resolution to the question ‘Why should I care?’ • No till, reduced till, minimum till, and
behaviors, were collected. 503 survey responses were used in this analysis.
Anthropocentrism: Other life is important only to conventional till
• Environmental attitude was measured with the New Environmental Paradigm scale (Dunlap and
the degree that it affects or can be useful to 2) Pesticide application timing
Van Liere 2000), Moral Reasoning was measured with the Ecocentric-Anthropocentric scale
humans. (negative correlation) • Post-emergence (based on weed problems),
(Thompson and Barton 1994), and Work Motivation was measured with the Motivation Sources
Inventory (Barbuto and Scholl 1998). Ecocentrism: Nature is considered to have intrinsic post-emergence (routine), Pre-emergence (based
value and should be preserved for its own sake. on previous season weeds), and Pre-plant/ Pre-
• Pro-environmental behavior was measured by compiling each farmer’s score for tillage practices, (positive correlation) emergence/or burndown
chemical application practices, and use of physical barriers. Structural equation modeling (SEM)
was used to analyze the data. SEM allows for factor construction, verification of measures’ 3) Physical barriers
properties, elaboration and testing of causal and ecological models, and the assessment of models’ • Buffer strips, terracing, contour farming,
adequacy, simultaneously (Corral-Verdugo 2002). and sediment basins
• Demographic variables included age, years farming, education, farm sales, farm assets, and % All photos from USDA photo gallery.
income from farming, http://www.ers.usda.gov/news/Photos.htm